SkillSmart: Using Skills to Create Pathways to Employment
SkillSmart is a robust skill-matching platform that connects jobseekers, employers, and educators to maximize their potential in today’s labor market and drive growth in our economy. SkillSmart has great potential to increase equity in hiring and help adults find job or training opportunities based on all of the skills they’ve earned in life. In getting to know SkillSmart, here’s what we learned:
- Skills can serve as a consistent measure of candidate proficiency for jobs: The SkillSmart platform, which uses skills as a consistent measure of candidate proficiency for a specific job, levels the playing field for applicants, which is especially valuable to underserved populations.
- It is valuable for job seeking/matching tools to provide opportunities for targeted upskilling: When job seekers use SkillSmart, they receive a quantifiable score related to how well they qualify for specific positions (giving them transparency into job responsibilities). Job seekers like seeing their scores increase as they add skills or training experiences.
- Job seekers have important skill-building experiences that qualify them for work opportunities that don’t often appear on a traditional resume: SkillSmart helps employers and job seekers uncover how certain skills can be earned and validated through previous work, education, or other life experiences. For example, a mother going back to work after caring for a paraplegic son learned through the tool that she had gained the skills to work in health insurance customer service. A hotel employer learned that they sought candidates who had volunteered as ushers at places of worship for their innate hospitality skills.
- Adults with lower skills benefit from personalized tools that help them understand well-suited career paths, as well as personal skills gaps they need to fill to get there: Job seekers use the platform to explore job opportunities, understand exactly what skills those jobs require, better understand their own personal skills gaps, and learn about regional training opportunities to gain skills to become more competitive for a job opportunity. Often adults with less formal education believe they can do only the job they’ve had, and SkillSmart helps them see new pathways.
- Skills can be used as a shared language: Employers, community program providers, and job seekers can use skills as a shared language to identify skills gaps—both personal and regional—and support goal setting.
- SkillSmart helps community organizations mediate employment with local employers: SkillSmart’s model helps employers, community-based organizations, and workforce development agencies work together to put more people into jobs with room for advancement and family-sustaining wages. It focuses efforts of organizations, leading to efficiency and greater success in placement.
Field Testing SkillSmart:
We field tested SkillSmart to find out what happens when employers start to look at a whole individual (and the actual skills required for a job), not just traditional education and work experience on a resume.
How We Know That It Works:
- Job placement: Understanding the skills needed for a job, applicants are able to highlight required skills and seek training to be eligible for job opportunities.
- Better matches lead to retention: Hires placed by SkillSmart are twice as likely to be retained after a year.
- Employers have adopted the skills listing into hiring processes: Translating jobs into skills requirements has been a transformational experience for employers like MGM Springfield. Now they encourage applicants to bring along their skills listing from SkillSmart to job interviews for positions at the resort.
Why it Works for Working Adult Learners:
The tool is available at no cost to job seekers.
|Objective and equitable
It provides objective criteria for employers to understand the skills of potential employees and can be used to screen-in qualified candidates.
|Removes the reliance on degree requirements
Without a clear understanding of the skills required for an open position, employers rely on traditional—and often unnecessary—proxies like degree requirements, which arbitrarily reduce the pool of applicants and disproportionately impact underrepresented individuals.
|Transparency into actual job requirements and upskilling opportunities
Job seekers can review the skill requirements of available jobs and seek training opportunities to upskill and qualify for a better job.
Field Testing Partners
- Chelsea Collaborative
- New England Farm Workers Council (NEFWC)
- MGM Resorts International
- Encore Boston
Job seekers supported by workforce development professionals at community-based organizations; Chelsea Collaborative and New England Farm Workers Council.
“Job descriptions, the traditional ones, are just so large, and most people don’t even read through them, to be honest. We had positions people had never heard of before, and so there’s a fear that people would not apply for those roles. If you created a profile on SkillSmart, the system could actually suggest jobs for you, based on the skills that you entered into your profile. You could look at that job now.”
MGM Resorts International
“We invest in companies that use technology to remove barriers holding these workers back from growing their talent, connecting to meaningful work, and thriving in the economy. SkillSmart’s model does all three—connecting job seekers to opportunities in which they are best fit, identifying clear pathways to upskill, and helping communities better solve their regional skills gaps.”
Managing Director, Employment Technology Fund
Collaborative Member, Chelsea Collaborative
This participant at the Chelsea Collaborative, one of our partnering sites in Massachusetts, is currently working as a dishwasher at a restaurant and was looking for similar jobs to apply for at the Encore resort in Boston. After she completed her profile, this jobseeker was matched with several jobs that she did not think existed and would really be for someone with her experience. She is excited about the idea of working in a customer-facing environment and is looking forward to applying for this job in the coming weeks. “It is inspiring for me to see how many skills I actually have after years of working in restaurants. I feel proud every time my Skill Index number goes up.” “I was looking for jobs as a dishwasher but have been encouraged that the SkillSmart system is matching me to jobs that I never even knew existed, like a Casino Porter.”
Clients of the New England Farm Workers Council
New England Farm Workers Council (NEFWC), a workforce development organization in Springfield, MA, used SkillSmart’s hiring model to help migrant farm workers obtain stable, long-term employment at MGM International’s Springfield resort.
The NEFWC used the SkillSmart platform to better understand for which positions their clients would be best suited, as well as identify training opportunities to remedy any skills gaps. Armed with that clearer understanding, the organization conducted internal training, put residents through MGM’s Gaming School (the casino’s pre-apprentice program in hospitality), and ran mock interviews so residents could get comfortable seeking a job. MGM employees also taught classes at NEFWC to prepare clients for service-oriented positions.
Here’s what one NEFWC client says: “The person you see today is a completely new creation! I was a single teen mother struggling with childcare, transportation, and jumping from shelter to shelter. Then NEFWC staff and teachers gave me training and helped me gain my confidence back and realize that I am capable of achieving self-sufficiency. After I got my HiSET, the staff opened the doors for me to take different trainings to better my chances of not just getting a job, but a career. Now after completing and graduating from the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute, I have a job as a Table Games Dealer, where I work for one of the biggest companies in the world—MGM Springfield!”
According to Vanessa Otero, COO of NEFWC, “SkillSmart’s model allowed us to clearly understand the skills required to work at MGM Springfield—helping us provide our clients access to the right training in order to become stronger applicants and, ultimately, get hired into good jobs.”
The NEFWC has been able to place over 150 of their clients into jobs at MGM Springfield, and they continue to train and upskill clients as new job openings become available.